Pre-Board Exam Stress In Children

Pre-Board Exam Stress In Children: 6 Best Ways to tackle the examination stress

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“A piece of paper cannot determine my future”

Nitish, a 10th-grade bright student, looked anxious all the time since the date of the board exams was declared. He burned the midnight oil to mug up well all his lessons and left no stone unturned to score well. His school too was preparing them well with daily short tests, weekly tests, and timely preboard exams. Well, all this is a part of the curriculum nowadays.

Even parents make sure that their children score well. And who doesn’t want to see their child standing on the merit list? Well, Nitish’s stress took a new turn and he started experiencing, stomach issues, body aches, and mild to severe bouts of headache. He looked pale and sick. His parents were worried about his condition. The deteriorating scores added to the woes, and his teachers went on reprimanding him about his deteriorating scores in every PTM (parent-teacher meeting). He was directed to the school counsellor by his teachers, where he was assessed and diagnosed with pre-examination stress!!

6 Best Ways to tackle the examination stress

He was put on counselling sessions and CBT, for a brief time and was given a set of exercises to get over the examination stress. Gradually, his condition improved and he started scoring well. This story sounds so similar, isn’t it? Our children too might have experienced this, but have you ever given it a serious thought, and taken help from a counsellor a child psychologist, or a school counsellor?

It’s high time we think over this and take timely action as examination stress especially the board examination stress puts the students under a lot of stress and there are far more damaging effects of it, just beyond losing scores. It impacts their physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being adversely.

This examination of stress affects their confidence, concentration, thinking ability, creativity, cognition, performance and health. The pre-board exams period is so intense that students of all categories, whether bright, mediocre or not-so-good, bear the brunt of it. The stress is equally grappling for all, and it increases with the mounting pressure to perform well. The fear of failure, or not making a good score is so high, take some students find it easier to commit suicide than to face failure.

Just after one of two exams, we come across news on various mediums, how a student committed suicide by jumping off a building or by any other means as the exam didn’t go well! Isn’t this a serious scenario? Time and time again, there have been various reforms brought in by the educationists in the curriculum to make scoring easy and to reduce the pressure of scoring, yet these cases are still on the rise. All this is just because of the surmounting examination pressure or say the board examination pressure.

The most difficult phase for children with learning disability (LD)

Children are different, and so are their learning abilities. But all are expected to stand out with the best performance and highest grades in the examination. Isn’t this unjustified? Children with learning disability are the worst hit, as they have issues in learning, and understanding certain subjects and sometimes all the subjects depending on the case of LD.

Though the govt. has come up with various reforms and eliminations, making it a bit easy for children with learning disability, still the stress of examination remains the same.

Students with LD require special coaching, help and special counsellors at school to help with their condition. The role of special educators and special school counsellors are subject matter experts in dealing with LD. Still, many schools lack proper amenities for students with this condition, leaving aside employing a full-time special educator or special school counsellor. Having a proper teaching staff and school counsellor will be an added advantage to these children.

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Learning Disability in Child

Some dos and don’ts for parents

The first pressure point comes from home. Unrealistic expectations from parents, comparison with siblings, neighbours, and other children, pushing them to score more, punishing them if they don’t, and above all ignoring their weaknesses and strengths.

Dos

Understand their weaknesses and strengths. Understand what subjects they are good at and not scoring well. Understand the areas where they need help. Each child learns differently, so understanding their learning style is imperative. Merely sending them to coaching classes will not help. give motivation, and celebrate small moments of success even though they show little improvements. This builds their confidence and motivates them to perform well.

Talk to your child that a higher score doesn’t determine their self-worth and your love for the child. Continue to give your love and support even though they fail, or don’t score well. It’s ok. Your positive and negative responses towards their score will hit them in the long run in the future.

Don’ts

Do not scold your child if the child is not doing well in the examination. It’s okay, accept failures and motivate their child to prepare well for the next subject. Do not compare siblings or with other children. This will break their morale and will hurt their confidence and self-worth. The child will continue to think that he/ she is useless or worthless, and unloved if they don’t score good marks in the examination. this will build stress causing more damage. Do not punish your child for failing the examination. Do not push your child beyond their boundaries in a fit to score well or stand in merit.

Maybe the child has a difficulty in understanding the subject. Try to analyse the situation and help your child. Do not say mean words about your child in front of sibling, their friends, teachers and other people, about their bad performance. This will make them more susceptible to feelings of low self-worth, and they start feeling suicidal.

Get help from a child psychologist, school counsellor or any psychologist who is good at dealing with these cases. All that they need is your conditional love, support and motivation.

How parents help children in pre board exam stress

Some dos and don’ts for teachers

Dos

Instead of scolding the student, or demoralising them in from of the whole class, motivate the child. Appreciate the child in front of the whole class even for the smallest improvements shown by the child. This will boost morale; and confidence pushing the child to work hard and perform well. Do not always pick up a fight with the child or parent of the student during PTMs. Rather talk more analytically about the areas of improvements the child requires and how parents can work on them. It’s a collaborative work by the teacher, the student and the parents.

Consider the subjects of strengths and weaknesses of the student, and make a study plan where the child can work and score well. The strategy should be to work a little harder on the subjects of strength and put effort into learning and understanding the subjects of weaknesses. A little push in the subjects of strength will balance the score that is missed in the weak subjects. As the mantra goes, “work on your strengths!”.

Don’ts

Some teachers say very mean things to their weak students thinking this will work as a negative reward function and the student will perform better. But this might work in the reverse, making the child stubborn enough not to study at all or impact self-confidence. Fighting with parents, and abusing the child in front of the whole class or front of the parents will not be good for the student.

Giving negative remarks, negative marking, punishing the student, etc will not help the child. Rather have an open talk with the child and offer unconditional support and help. Help the child understand where the student is committing mistakes and help him/ her out. It’s a matter of patience and consistent efforts. Take the help of a special educator, and school counsellor to bring in the desired changes, after proper assessments. LD students need special efforts hence, take the help of special educators.

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Each student is different and so are their learning methods. Some like, some students are visual learners, some are auditory learners some are kinesthetic learners. Understand their learning behaviour and then chalk out a study plan that will bring about effective changes helping the student to score good marks.

How teachers help children in pre board exam stress

Here are 11 ways to deal with the penting up board examination stress

Understanding the Sources of Stress:

Understanding the sources of stress is the most important thing. Whether the stress is due to examination, lack of preparation, lack of confidence, or difficulty in some subject, whether there are time management issues or something else. Once the source of stress is understood, it becomes easy to check and manage the stress.

Academic Expectations:

The primary source of stress for children during pre-board exams is the weight of academic expectations. The pressure to excel in each subject, coupled with the fear of disappointing parents and teachers, can create a toxic environment. Hence, do not set unrealistic academic expectations like high scores, standing on the merit list, etc. Understand your child’s learning abilities and accept them. Then offer help, support and motivation in the required manner. The final goal is to excel in life not just make a good score in the board exams.

Academic Expectations stress in children

Time Management:

The sheer volume of syllabus to cover and the limited time available can be a significant stressor. Children often find themselves torn between balancing different subjects, leading to sleepless nights and burnout. The increasing volume of lessons, detailed study, projects, internal and external exams, weekly tests, and daily tests, leave no time for the child to sit down and study adequately. All that is happening is rote learning. The time to understand the subject is not all found.

Apart from this participate in extracurricular activities. There is no end to this pressure it seems. One child might take one day to learn his or her favourite subject and might take a few weeks to get a hang of the subjects of not so interest. Talk to the child about the importance of time management and chalk out a study plan accordingly. Time management during examinations is equally important. The practice of solving the question paper in 2 hr 3 mins is important. This will improve scoring. The child shouldn’t become, a “jack of all trades but master in none”.

Peer Competition:

The competitive nature of academics intensifies during exam periods. Constant comparisons with peers and the desire to outperform others can significantly contribute to stress. Peer pressure is another trigger for stress in students. Bullying by the high scores, toward the weak ones, adds to the woes. These things are major put-off things for the child to study and perform during examination.

The fear of failure is perhaps the most pervasive stressor. The fear of being outcasted by peers is much more. The implications of poor performance on future opportunities can be a heavy burden for young minds to bear. Hence, talk to your child/ student regarding this issue and take timely action. It’s ok if the child is not scoring higher than your neighbour’s child or some other student in the class. Try to ease your student/ child from this peer pressure.

Peer Competition stress in children

Fear of Failure:

We prepare students to get higher grades. We do not prepare them for failure. Our whole focus lies only on getting higher scores. Fear of failure is the major put-off thing for a student. The fear of failure, punishment from parents, and name-calling by peers and students all these things put pressure on the student. This takes a toll on their self-confidence and performance. Hence, parents and teachers should openly discuss this fear. Students should be guided to navigate through this fear. Its imperative to prepare students for failure, and to reduce the incidences of suicides.

Structured Study Plans:

Your study plan should take into consideration the areas of weakness and subjects of strengths and must include extra time for efforts to be put into learning some difficult subjects. Hence, go strategic on this. Encourage children to create a realistic and structured study plan. Breaking down the syllabus into manageable chunks with specific time slots for each subject helps in maintaining focus and reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed. Talk to the teacher or school counsellor to include various methods of learning in this study plan to help the child learn more in a short time.

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Healthy Lifestyle Choices:

Health is wealth for sure. Especially in these growing up years, if the health is not so good then it will take a toll on the education and performance too. Emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep play a crucial role in enhancing cognitive function and reducing stress. Stress and anxiety make children feel weak and dehydrated. Keep them hydrated with electrolytes, juices, buttermilk, etc. Add fresh fruits to their diet, and help them stay away from binge eating, which most students do due to stress.

Open Communication:

The communication between the child should not be a wartime. Similarly, PTMs should not be the complaining session. It should be an open-ended healthy discussion time, where the parents should be able to openly discuss their child’s issues, the student should be allowed to openly talk about his or her troubles with the subjects, and the teacher is allowed to give informative tips and suggestion for improvement. This fosters an inclusive atmosphere for better scores of the students. Hence, fostering an open line of communication between parents, teachers, and students is quintessential. Creating a supportive environment where children feel comfortable expressing their concerns helps in alleviating the emotional burden.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

Encourage your child to participate in yoga classes, or to practice some mindfulness exercises. If possible be a part of their yoga, meditation, or mindfulness regimes. Introduce mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises and meditation. These practices can help children manage stress, improve concentration, and promote a sense of calm. Some students worry too much about the future. Just like worrying too much about the impending board exams. This sort of stress is of no good. Hence allow them to practice mindfulness and to stay in the moment. Just like focusing on today, today’s schedule, study chart, today’s goal, etc. This will reduce the examination stress.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques for stress in children

Encourage Breaks and Recreation:

Too much studying for long durations without a break will lead to burnout. Hence, short breaks in between are essential for maintaining productivity and preventing burnout. Encourage short breaks during study sessions and allocate time for recreational activities to help refresh the mind. 80: The 20 rule works wonders here. Like inculcating 15 mins of break time in 60 mins of study hr schedule. This will help to prevent burnout and improve focus, and longevity. This should consist of taking a short walk, sipping juice, doing some simple physical activity etc.

Set Realistic Expectations:

Understand your child/ student first before setting very high expectations. Unrealistic expectations will only lead to disappointment and depression. Manage expectations by emphasizing that it’s okay not to be perfect. Setting realistic goals and acknowledging that setbacks are a natural part of the learning process can alleviate the fear of failure. Help the child to set realistic goals and expectations for oneself. This will bring in acceptance and will foster healthy competition with oneself leading to improved results.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, pre-board exam stress is a pervasive issue that demands attention and proactive intervention. By understanding the sources of stress and implementing effective strategies, parents and educators can create an environment that fosters both academic success and emotional well-being. It is crucial to remember that while academic achievements are important, a child’s mental and emotional health should always take precedence. As we navigate the storm of pre-board exams, let us empower our children with the tools they need to face challenges head-on and emerge stronger and more resilient.

Get help at OnlineCounselling4U

OnlineCounselling4U offers the best services to one and all in online mode. Just avail our services from the comforts of our home. Talk to our counsellors and get help for your child, or student and our psychologists will help you the best. If you are a student and struggling with your performance, get help from us and we will help you. All that matters is your well-being, and your future lies in your mental, emotional and physical well-being. So, call us today to book a session. Visit us at www.onlincouncelling4u.com.

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